You’re not special, court tells Jinggoy
The Sandiganbayan on Friday reminded outgoing Sen. Jinggoy Estrada that he is subject to the restrictions and conditions of the jail facility “like other detention prisoners” even as it denied him furlough to attend the final Senate sessions and his mother’s 86th birthday celebration this week.
Estrada, who is being tried for plunder for the alleged misuse of P183 million in his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel, had asked for a four-day furlough from May 30 to June 2 to “wind up his affairs” at the Senate.
He also requested to be allowed to leave the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame on June 4 to join the birthday celebration of his mother, former first lady and senator Loi Ejercito.
In a ruling issued Friday, the antigraft court’s Fifth Division stood pat on its past decisions disallowing Estrada from attending Senate sessions and his mother’s birthday parties.
The court said Estrada’s presence at the Senate to supervise the removal of his belongings from his office is not necessary, and that his mother’s birthday party was not a compelling reason for him to leave detention.
“He is like all other detention prisoners, subjected to restriction in actual physical movement,” said the Sandiganbayan, quoting its decision last year.
“It will be a mockery of the justice system if Senator Estrada is allowed, at his whim, or that of his family, to attend his mother’s birthday celebration that can nonetheless be held or celebrated within his proximity,” it said.
Detained outgoing Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. had also asked for furlough to attend the Senate sessions from June 6 to 8.
The Sandiganbayan First Division, which is trying Revilla for allegedly receiving P224.5 million in kickbacks from his legislative discretionary funds, has not yet issued a decision.
The two senators, along with plunder coaccused Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, have been detained in Camp Crame since July 2014.
But the Supreme Court granted Enrile bail in August last year after he challenged the basis of the charges against him.
The three senators’ term ends on June 30.
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